NEW YORK – Kathleen Parker, a prominent political commentator, is leaving CNN's "Parker Spitzer," the much-ballyhooed prime-time talk show
she co-hosted with Eliot Spitzer, the formerly disgraced governor of New York.
Parker, 58, a Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer, said in a statement Friday night, "I have decided to return to a schedule that will allow me to focus more on my syndicated newspaper column and other writings." Parker writes a politically moderate op-ed column for The Washington Post that is syndicated nationally.
Spitzer, 51, whose aggressive and voluble personality overshadowed hers from the beginning of the show last fall, will remain. He was reported to have been telling friends that Parker would be leaving in short order.
Parker, cast in the stand-by-her-man role
on the show, was reported in December to have been fed up playing second fiddle to the motor-mouth Spitzer. Though both of them and CNN issued statements denying the rift, it was known to media insiders that the pair was not working well together.
The show's ratings reflected the tensions. On Wednesday, it drew 713,000 viewers,
ranking it a distant third after Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News (3.32 million viewers) and "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC (1.04 million), according to The Washington Post.
The new Parker-less program will be renamed "In the Arena"
and will be redesigned as an ensemble program that will feature Spitzer. Spitzer will interview newsmakers each week night along with two other commentators,
E.D. Hill, a former Fox News morning host, and Will Cain, a columnist for the conservative journal National Review.
The problem with Parker, according to the New York Post earlier this year, was that she "seemed like a wilting flower
next to the hard-charging former state attorney general."
Spitzer, once known as "the sheriff of Wall Street" for his relentless investigations of the financial sector, is now better known as "Client 9,"
the alias he used while frequenting call girls, most notably one Ashley Alexandra Dupré, over a period of years. His sexual escapades erupted into a major scandal in 2008 that cost him the governorship, his political future (he was once seen as potentially the first Jewish president) and his ascendance in the Democratic Party of New York.
But the scandal didn't cost him his marriage. His wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, stood by his side, unwittingly leading to the creation of the CBS TV hit "The Good Wife."